Express & Star

Mayor Andy Street could offer a lifeline for Wolverhampton's Beatties building

Andy Street, the elected mayor for the West Midlands, said he would be prepared to step in to help save the Beatties building if a suitable developer could be found.

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Andy Street

There has been a question over the future of the landmark former department store in Wolverhampton since the Express & Star revealed that the developer behind the scheme had been placed in the hands of receivers.

Wolverhampton Council leader Councillor Stephen Simkins said it was unlikely the authority would be able to help out financially, but Mr Street said the West Midlands Combined Authority might be able to step in if a suitable rescue package could be put together.

An aerial view of the former Beatties department store in Wolverhampton city centre. Image: Bob Griffiths Photography

But he said he believed that the site was too big for a single developer, and said it would need a consortium with real expertise to bring the site back to life.

"It's a huge challenge in terms of the cash that is needed, whether it can be restored, or whether it is a demolition and rebuilding," said Mr Street.

"I personally hope it's not a demolition, the building itself is a thing of beauty, and historically significant in Wolverhampton, and I hope we will be able to find a consortium that is able to take it on.

"We would be prepared to contribute, as we have done with other schemes, but only as part of a consortium.

"That's not an open-ended cheque. If there is a workable scheme, then we might be willing to work with other partners, but I think it would be too big for just one developer."

The building, which dates back to the 1920s, has been empty for three years after House of Fraser moved to a smaller unit in the Mander Centre. It was bought for £3 million by SSYS Beatties, run by Pragnesh Modhwadia, who announced plans to turn it into a mixture of flats and retail use.

In March 2021, the developer was granted permission to redevelop the building, retaining retail units at ground floor level and turning the upper floors into 300 apartments. The plan failed to materialise.

A second scheme, to demolish Beatties’ multi-storey car park and the Gorgeous nightclub and replace it with 145 flats, was given the go-ahead in January, but again did not go ahead. Last month Wolverhampton Council served an enforcement notice for the site to be tided up. This month it emerged that SSYS Beatties had been placed in receivership after defaulting on a loan from Kseyes Capital.

Savvas Socratous and Costas Papadopoulos, of London-based Alexander Lawson Surveyors, have been appointed joint receivers. Mr Socratous said the building would be placed on the market in due course.